Antigo keeps streak over Raiders alive, but not by much
The Medford Raiders got the first goal and, unfortunately, it was their only goal in a well-played 2-1 loss to the Antigo Red Robins Tuesday night at the Simek Recreation Center. The Robins scored their goals in a span of 3:16 early in the second period and that was enough for them to avoid a stunning Great Northern Conference upset. Antigo improved to 20-0 against Medford since the teams became conference rivals in the 2008-09 season. This was the closest game in the series, beating a 5-3 Antigo win in 2009-10 and a 6-4 game in 2011-12. Antigo had shut out Medford nine straight times before a 5-1 game last year.
“They played real well,” Medford head coach Galen Searles said of his squad, which fell to 0-3 in the Great Northern Conference and 2-3 overall. “The first period was great and the third period was great. When we came out for the second, we had a power play but the legs were just flat. They were beating us to the puck on every puck race. If I were to say one thing to blame for that second period, it was just flat legs.”
The legs were good in an evenlyplayed, quick first period. Antigo outshot Medford 9-4, but it was the Raiders who took the lead into intermission. Brayden Machon got the puck to Colton Gowey with room for the junior to maneuver. He flipped a perfect shot left to right, just inside the post and over the glove of Antigo net minder Brody Bunnell 13:55 into the game to give the Raiders their lead.
In the early going, the Raiders used three offensive lines, something Searles said they experimented with in the previous game at Northland Pines.
“We started with that just because I wanted to have a little more for the third period,” Searles said. “In the third period those two lines were chugging the whole time.”
But in between the first and third periods, things went just quiet enough for Antigo to pounce. While outshooting the Raiders 18-10 in the second period, Antigo killed off a power play to start it, then Reese Myre tied the game at the 3:00 mark with an assist from Joe Bartletti. At 6:16, Isaac Wickersheim knocked in what turned out to be the game winner with assists from Garrett Husnick and Myre.
After the annual Parents’ Night ceremony in the second intermission, Medford regrouped and came out firing in the third, outshooting Antigo 14-7. Bunnell and his defense held against Medford’s barrage and then closed out the win by controlling the puck in the last five minutes and not allowing the Raiders to pull the goalie for an extra attacker until about the last 10 seconds.
“When we went up after we had our ceremony and talked, the kids were getting a little emotional because we were playing so well in the first and they were like what happened? I told them calm down, when you’re on the bench, that’s when you rest then take that emotion out on the ice. In the third period we did well. We had a few good opportunities but couldn’t quite push them through. (Bunnell) was solid.”
Bunnell finished with 27 saves as Antigo improved to 3-3-1 overall and 1-1 in GNC play. AJ Adleman had 32 saves for the Raiders. Medford successfully killed its two penalties, while Antigo killed all three of its infractions.
Medford hopes to use this performance as a springboard heading into some non-conference play over the holidays. The Raiders will be in Marshfield this weekend for a 7 p.m. Friday game with the host Tigers and then a noon game Saturday against the Altoona Coop that stunned the Raiders with a 4-3 comeback win in last year’s WIAA tournament opener. Medford hosts the Viroqua Co-op on Dec. 28 at 3 p.m.
Pines 15, Medford 0
While Medford had the look of an improved team in its first three games, the Raiders found Friday they still have work to do to cut into the gap they have with Northland Pines, who rolled to a 15-0 win in Eagle River.
Voted the state’s top-ranked Division 2 team last week, the Eagles scored just 10 seconds into the game and built a 7-0 lead by the end of the first period. It was 10-0 after two.
Harmon Marien had five goals and three assists for Pines, Gunnar Schiffmann had three goals and three assists. He scored the goal 10 seconds into the game. Brady Snedden had six assists. Marien and Snedden assisted on the game-opening goal.
Zach Maillette had two goals and an assist for Pines, while Hunter Bill had two goals and two assists.
Adleman had 28 saves for the Raiders, while Brett Wilkins had nine for the Eagles, who scored once in three power plays. Medford had four power-play chances.
This is the first year of two-division hockey in Wisconsin and on Saturday, Pines (5-1) had the unique opportunity to take part in the first game between the state’s two top-ranked teams. Unfortunately, Pines was beaten 7-0 by Division 1’s top-ranked team, Notre Dame Academy of Green Bay.